Pride Prepares for Festival

Pride Committee members Laura Foster, Marcus Remta, Michelle Rigg, Graham Lovelock,Daniel Smith and Dean Cahill.

Pride Committee members Laura Foster, Marcus Remta, Michelle Rigg, Graham Lovelock,Daniel Smith and Dean Cahill.

Pride WA’s management committee is hard securing the organisation’s future as well as focusing on long term sustainability.  Following a period of financial instability and falling attendance numbers, the organisation is tackling the dual goals of meeting community expectations of events and planning for the future.

This year Pridefest will kick off on Saturday 2nd November, with a new daytime parade, followed by an outdoor music festival, called ‘Celebration’.  The festival will continue with three weeks of arts, culture and community events. Looking ahead to the busy festival period Male Co-President Daniel Smith is confident that the revamped festival will meet community expectations.

“I’m pretty confident that people will be blown away by what we turn on for the parade and ‘Celebration,’” said Mr Smith.

“With ‘Celebration’ they’ll get a multi-spaced entertainment with local and interstate acts, it’ll never have a dull moment, it’ll be quality and $10 or $15 to get in.”

Female Co-President Michelle Rigg highlighted that the ‘Celebration’ event will meet the needs of the diverse LGBT community. “It will cater for a broad range of ages, from the over 18′s and up,” said Ms Rigg.

While there has been some apprehension with the proposal to move the parade to the daytime, the Co-Presidents highlight that many cities have successful daytime parades.

“Daytime parades have been very successful and growing in other cities and we should give that a go,” said Mr Smith, “I think it sends a message to our community and the world, we’re not a night time community, that’s a stereotype and misconception of what our community is. We live our lives in full sunlight in all aspects of society and we need to be seen that way. From my perspective ‘rainbows belong in the daylight’.”

Alongside the delivery of the annual program of events the committee is focused on a long term plan to access what goals people would like Pride WA to achieve.

“We’re doing a strategic review that will go over two years,” explained Mr Smith, “It’ll be a major funded review where we go out and talk to members of our community no matter where they live, throughout Perth and throughout the regions and try to identify what they want from organisations like Pride going forward and get a renewed sense of what they want Pride to do, that will shape our plans for the next ten years.”

Ms Rigg describes the current committee as very dedicated, working on on an array of projects leading up to the festival. In the coming month the committee members plan to meet up with all the other local community organisations to let them know what is happening at this years festival and how other groups can be involved. This involvement includes participating in the new float building program, the parade, the ‘Celebration’ party and the wider festival.

“The whole view is really engaging the community and allowing them to be really involved in making it their own, and having that community spirit and participation,” said Ms Rigg.

While other not-for-profit organisations that have existing as long as Pride WA have built up sustainable business models, Pride always seems to be in a cycle of struggling for survival. For the current committee, many who have served previously, breaking this cycle is a priority.

“What happens each year,” explained Mr Smith, “a bunch of new people come on to the committee with new ideas and new actions, that they try to do on top of the organisation’s existing calendar of events. What often happens is you get this volunteer committee which is spread very thin across a large number of events.

“Two things happen, most of the events are run badly, because their aren’t enough human resources and secondly you create all these risk centres, revenue wise, that then get’s Pride into trouble financially.”

Looking ahead beyond the current year’s activities is one of the committee’s key objectives for the future. As the Co-Presidents point out, if everyone is exhausted after putting on the festival – the organisation misses out on apply for funding grants and collaborative opportunities for the next year’s event. The team is already hard at work applying for funding for the 2014 year.

Looking ahead the organisation hopes to be reduce the commitment for  volunteer directors in the future. Having paid staff to do the ‘day to day’ work of arranging a festival is part of this plan. Last week local events management company JumpClimb were announced as the organisers of the upcoming festival. The company also organises the popular Beaufort Street Festival, Rottofest and Weekly queer event Bingay.

Since the committee were elected at the AGM they’ve had a much lower level of turnover of members in comparison to previous years. Jeff McDonald stood down after a change in his work commitments, but new committee member Colin McDonald has been co-opted to fill the vacancy.

The committee is also close to being able to share fully audited accounts from the previous year with members.  At the 2013 AGM fully audited accounts were not ready to be provided.

“We’re almost there,” confirms Mr Smith, “The Centre for Association Management is putting together our accounts, but they won’t differ remarkably from what was presented at the AGM.”

“We don’t have any issues or concerns with the books,” said Ms Rigg.

Graeme Watson






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